You change diapers, cook dinner, go to work, pay the bills, and clean the house. You try not to nag or complain. You share the remote and remember special occasions. You feel like you do all the things a good husband or wife, mom or dad, should do; and yet you still feel like what you do is not appreciated.
You feel like your partner has turned away from you and doesn’t notice you these days. You think from time to time, “How do I make my partner value me again?”
Something to think about…
Your partner may also feel undervalued – even though you think and feel that you have shown appreciation to him or her.
This is such a common question when couples begin to grow apart, especially when the newness of the relationship wears off.
When I meet with clients in my counseling office and this issue comes up, I address two major perceptual issues that influence how valued people feel in their relationships.
- First, you can’t force someone to value you. You can inspire appreciation, express needs, and set limits; but ultimately, whether another appreciates and values you is up to him or her.
- Secondly, it’s possible that your partner does indeed value you and the relationship, but struggles to know how to express or show it. It may be that you feel undervalued, but that is not actually the case. In this situation, it is common that your partner probably also feels undervalued – even though you think and feel that you have shown appreciation to him or her.
With these two underlying concepts in place, consider the following three ways you can promote healthy amounts of value and appreciation within your relationship.
3 Ways to encourage your significant other to value and appreciate you
- Value your partner first.
Don’t wait for your partner to make the first move in patching up the relationship. In long-term relationships, it’s common for one or both of the individuals to get used to the day-to-day roles and responsibilities. They start to look at employment, housework, affection, and so on as just part of the drill. They start to feel entitled to the other person performing those tasks, and stop feeling the appreciation they originally felt when the relationship began. Where we used to revel in, and praise vehemently, a romantic gesture or help with a household task, we start to expect it. Start to identify and be grateful for the things your partner does for you directly, or indirectly.
Exercise: Write a list of all of the things he or she does to support you, your kids, and your home. Write down the traits that drew you to your partner in the first place and recognize the growth that has been made. Risk reaching out, even when you don’t feel like it. Say “thank you” for the small things.
- Do things worth valuing.
Every person is innately and unconditionally valuable; but think about the things, or people, that you value most in your life. Do they treat you like garbage? Are they things that hold no intrinsic or sentimental value? The answer is “no.” People value others that have helped, strengthened, and supported them the most. They value things that have memories attached to them, or things that help them acquire what they like and need.The book “The Five Love Languages” talks about different people having different love languages, or ways to feel and express love and appreciation. You may be speaking a different love language than your partner. This is important to remember, because the things you value may not always be the things that your partner values. Seek out ways to show appreciation that are valuable to your partner. You may have to do something different, something new, something other than your usual everyday responsibilities; but in doing this, you do things that are worth valuing to your partner.
Exercise: Identify and write down how your partner expresses and receives love best. Make sure you don’t confuse this with how you express and receive love. Identify one thing that is out of the ordinary to do to express love and appreciation.
- Express needs and feelings without attacking.
Listen, Listen, Listen! Listening is the key to great expression and conversation. When we understand others, we can express our needs in ways that work along with them, instead of against them. Own your own emotions of feeling undervalued and ask for suggestions of things you can do together to feel more valued and appreciated, rather than making accusatory statements like, “You don’t value me! You don’t even like me anymore!”
Exercise: Own your feelings. Consciously stop blaming others or yourself for your feelings. Acknowledge your feelings without blaming others for them. Set aside a time to talk with your spouse about ways that you can work together to provide feelings of gratitude and appreciation for each other.
In order for relationships to work, and in order to gain mutual satisfaction, it’s important for both parties to feel valued. If this issue becomes chronic, it shouldn’t be something to just skip over and think, “this will pass.” Take an active role in finding ways to value your partner, and in turn, increase your partner’s appreciation of you.
Disclaimer: Abuse is not the same as feeling undervalued. If your partner is physically harming you, call 911 and have a safety plan in place. If your partner is verbally or emotionally abusive (threatening, swearing and name calling, degrading or shaming, and overly controlling, or often throws items or breaks things for intimidation, etc.), seek more extensive professional help immediately.
Question: What is one way you can show more deliberate appreciation for your spouse?
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